What Would A Pin Up / Rocker / Classic Lady Wear?

This guest post comes to us via the lovely and talented (and my real life friend) Sally McGraw.  She’s an author, a style consultant, and the genius behind Already Pretty.  Pop over and say hi!There are definite constants within my personal style, but I refuse to be tied down to a single aesthetic. Which is why folks who have actively chosen to dress within a narrow set of parameters fascinate me. I’ve called upon a few such women and asked them to share their motivations and choices. Read on to find out more about their wardrobes, their decision-making processes, and their lives within defined dressing aesthetics.

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Candice, Super Kawaii Mama – Old Style Glamour


What made you decide to dedicate your wardrobe to a single defined aesthetic?

This is an interesting question because I personally view my style as very eclectic. While it has a strong vintage bent and many refer to me as “The Vintage Queen”, there is much more diversity than that in my choices though. The singular defining characteristic of my wardrobe is glamour. Not an elegant, understated type of glamour, but a full throttle, old Hollywood, sequins and feathers type of glamour. Whether I’m wearing vintage, vintage inspired or even a more modern eclectic look, the litmus test of success for me is the drama element in the glamour.

I can trace the point of my wardrobe decision back to a moment when I was about 7 years old. I grew up on a diet of MGM films and remember watching Rosalind Russell in “Aunty Mame” for the very first time. Both she as a character and her wardrobe (despite her changing age and circumstances) took my breath away. At that moment, I knew she was the kind of woman I aspired to be, both inside and out. I’ve been following her lessons ever since.

How long have you stuck to it?

I’d have to say this my style has been a life long quest, and like all good quests has been filled with adventure and the odd demon to over come. There has certainly been times in my life where I have really struggled to maintain my stylistic self, both through style fatigue, and life issues. Having two children presented challenges I hadn’t considered, as did things like ageing, having money, having no money, and dramatic weight differences. All of these experiences though, have given rise to a breadth of understanding in my style that makes it all the more empathetic when relating to readers situations.

When I look back at photos of 14 year old me, the same style signatures, as well as the dramatic poses, are all still evident.

What do you love about it?
I love that my style is about more than just the transient nature of trend based fashion. My style is in fact a lifestyle philosophy. I believe that by presenting my most glamorous version of myself, no matter the time, place or circumstances; I’m able to find that rose coloured version of reality which we all seek. It is about taking what you have and putting the best possible spin on it, polishing it till it shines and inspires others around you to do similarly. When so much of life is presented in shades of grey, dressing with glamour in mind is like watching in colour.

What’s frustrating?
I though about this for awhile as there are far too many flippant answers I could give like, “not enough closet space.” but to be honest, the thing at frustrates me, makes me sad and angry at the same time, is how many people just give up on themselves. How many people believe that,”I wish I could, but that’s for every one else. That’s for special people, not for me.” And the other thing that I feel very strongly about is raising the bar for the next generation. As a society we have never been so well off (historically) or had such ready and cheap access to good clothing and beauty options. We spend billions on advertising in these markets, spend our pay-checks on magazines of celebrities looking fantastic, and yet never as a nation have we been so poorly dressed / presented. It is a maddening irony and one that will only change if people are brave enough to challenge that status quo and raise that bar.

What would you say to someone considering a similar sartorial path?
Fashion and style are a language. Learn which language is the most true to your creative heart, then spend the time to develop your vocabulary. Yes, you can get by on the basics, but you could also use it to write the story of your life. Your story belongs to you alone. Don’t allow someone else to write it for you without you realising it is happening.

Erin, Work With What You’ve Got – Rocker


What made you decide to dedicate your wardrobe to a single, defined aesthetic?

It was more organic than that, really. When I was 15, my favorite store was The Gap. I wanted to work there, so when I applied, I dressed head-to-toe in GAP, and I got the job. I used my first paycheck to purchase a classic black motorcycle jacket from Contempo Casuals , and I’ve been adding a touch of rock-and-roll to everything I wear ever since.

How long have you stuck to it?
I’ve had phases since then when I tried new things, but I always come back to that black leather jacket. In the early 90s my favorite look was a short floral dress, pink patent leather mary janes and that biker jacket. Now I love anything flowy, and lacy paired with black ankle boots and a black leather jacket (or vest!) so even though my style is always evolving, always changing, it always comes back to that black leather jacket. I have several motorcycle jackets and one fringed leather vest today. The original jacket (which I keep in a hall closet for sentimental reasons), a thicker Winter weight one, a lighter weight one for Spring and Fall by H&M, a Red Suede version by Zac Posen for Target, a grey denim version by Alexander McQueen for Target, a drapey black version by Bebe for dressy events, a black lace sheer version for Summer, and the crowning glory of my collection; a light pink leather one with an airbrushed unicorn on the back for that authentic 80’s mall rock look. And I’m always on the hunt for more (no pleather!). While the jackets are not the whole of my look, they are the heart and soul. And anything you wear them with becomes a little more rock-and-roll by default.

What do you love about it?
It makes me feel young, and it makes me feel like ME. The most uncomfortable I ever feel is in something preppy, with a black blazer instead of one of my biker jackets. Some of my other standard rock and roll wardrobe elements are lots of jewelry, which I like to keep very edgy. I have a lot of skulls, animal bones and bullets in my jewelry collection. I also rely on my denim studded vest, and my leather shorts. I love leather shorts paired with a dressy blouse. I love the freedom to mix and match and I love knowing that no matter what new thing I want to try (neon, color blocking, prints), I can keep it me by incorporating my leather and jewelry into the look. An added bonus? Black leather boots. Very rock-and-roll, very comfortable. I keep them around in ankle, mid calf, knee high and thigh high versions.

What’s frustrating?
Business casual. I have been working on a jewelry line for a local boutique in Dallas for the past few months but it turns out I really am a people person. I have been looking for part time work and there is really no way around either ditching or watering down my look. I have to wear matching earrings ( I never wear matching earrings) , and real shoes (not boots) and a BLAZER. Blazers are my mortal enemy. I really need to focus up and find a leather one soon.

What would you say to someone considering a similar sartorial path?

Wear what you want. (Love you Wendy B!) But remember that sometimes what you want may not be appropriate. When we choose an extreme look for ourselves we have to accept that sometimes we have to tone it down or abandon it altogether. Know when to let your personality and skill shine by not overwhelming people with your edge. Sometimes, you have to tuck your bullet rosary inside your shirt. It’s still there. You’re still you.

Most importantly, if you find something you love, and you want to wear it, but you don’t think it fits into your aesthetic, WEAR IT. Having a defined style is not meant to feel like a prison, it’s meant to feel like home. Feel free to take a vacation sometimes.

Lisa, Privilege – Classic


What made you decide to dedicate your wardrobe to a single, defined aesthetic?
Lack of imagination? No, no, that’s not it. I just couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. I want to feel stylish, it’s a non-trivial component of my self image, as we say in the software business. But I need to feel refined and sophisticated, and as though I might go unnoticed. Especially as my personal communication style can be quite direct and forceful.

How long have you stuck to it?
The question is really how long did it take me to get here? I’ve never wanted to dress any other way, I simply thrashed about a lot in the attempt. I had a phase in the 80s, replete with Japanese knitwear. Clothes were fantastic, a Rei Kawakubo kimono sweater and matching pants in particular, but the look was downright silly on me.

What do you love about it?

I always feel appropriate to the situation, but never like I’ve lost the opportunity for self-expression.

What’s frustrating?

So many patterns and colors that I’ll never know. So much swashbuckling that I’ll never do.

What would you say to someone considering a similar sartorial path?

Enjoy! Most of all, find pleasure in subtlety. Find your perfect t-shirt, in your perfect color, and wear it under simple cardigans and blazers. Befriend texture, tweed, cable knit, and stretch jersey all. Layer textures, keep your silhouette simple. Invest in delicate pretty jewelry – like a little gold script initial necklace, or pink baroque pearl earrings – classic but not cookie-cutter. And don’t worry, huge sums of money not required. Replace cashmere with merino, use quiet mixes of color in your best shades, and celebrate American jeans in all their glory – especially paired with a jacket.

Oh, and remember, motorcycle boots are their own kind of classic, and can be worn with the most decorous of outfits. The best part of fully exploring an aesthetic is the creativity you find at the fringes.

How do you describe your aesthetic? Do you have one look you stick to?


Rachael @ Style Every Day

I love everything about this post.

My style constantly changes and constantly evolves and could fit in with any of these ladies' wardrobes on any given day.

It's amazing to see three women with such confidence in themselves and others!

Plus, this quote will be in my head all weekend: "So much swashbuckling that I’ll never do."



I love Erin's advice about finding something you love and wearing it even if it doesn't fit your defined style. So true! We all deserve to love what we're wearing.

Beth (@RunTraveler)

My style is definitely most similar to Lisa's.

I like clean lines, classic cuts, and solid colors. On a given day I'd pair tailored (possibly bright) slacks with a black sweater and accessorize with huge bangle bracelets or some other unique accessory to punch it up a little.

In general my philosophy is: I want to look polished, and I want to wear my clothes, not have them wear me.


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